'To do what is right'
A/N: Hello everyone. This is the first fan fic I have written after completing my multi-chaptered fanfic called "It is our choices". I developed the idea for this fanfic when reading through an essay I wrote prior to the release of DH which speculated and debated the reasons why Severus was loyal to Dumbledore (despite the former killing the latter in the HBP). I remembered back when there were several essays being written on Harry Potter fan sites predicting what would happen in the Deathly Hallows. Many felt that Harry would return to Hogwarts before setting out on his journey with Ron and Hermione so that he could talk to Dumbledore's portrait. While I thought this was wishful thinking, for at the time, I didn't think that that was the way JK Rowling was planning for Dumbledore's portrait to be used (though I hoped nevertheless), if you manipulate certain aspects of the story, it is plausible that Harry could have returned to Hogwarts to speak with Dumbledore before setting off. Consequently, this fan fic revolves around this possibility and what I feel could have happened had JK Rowling decided to go down that path.
A/N: While I own most of the plot line, the characters and some of the scenes in this fanfic are of JK Rowling's amazing creation and are hence, not of my imagination.
A/N: This fanfic assumes that you have read all of the Harry Potter books. The story starts just after Kingsley sends his Lynx to the Weasley-Delacour wedding at the Burrow.
A/N: When I first set out to writing this fanfic, my goal was to remain within the restrictions of the cannon, however as I continued writing I realized that this fan fic, in my opinion, had a better direction and plot line if I manipulated the cannon a little to suit my story, which is what I have ultimately now done.
Note: As a writer I love writing confrontation and awkward moments in my stories. This one will be reminiscent of some of my previous styles of writing, but I do hope that you enjoy it nonetheless. Don't forget to review!
Harry's heart was pounding against his chest. He supposed he should have expected the Weasley's Wedding to be crashed, but the image of Kingsley's lynx and his assertion that the ministry had fallen, had created a new sense of fear in Harry that he couldn't escape from. Realising that the only reason why the Death Eaters had arrived at the Weasleys' was to find him, an immense weight of guilt fell upon Harry: he knew he had to leave, now was the time, but it pained him to have everybody else suffer because of him- because of who he is: The Chosen one.
Harry wasn't thinking straight, but thankfully for him, Hermione had the situation under control. She had found both Harry and Ron and was dragging them to a space large enough to Apparate. As they were pushing through Death Eaters, guests and Weasleys alike, Hermione turned to her right and asked Harry urgently:
"Where do you want to go, Harry?"
But Harry hardly heard her, his eyes were glued to all the people he was passing, people he was leaving behind as he was about to Apparate to safety, leaving the Weasleys- people he loved- to clean up the mess his presence had ultimately caused.
"Harry!" Hermione yelled as best she could through her teeth in order to muffle the assertion of his name.
Taking one last glance at the beautiful decorations, the many overturned tables and chairs and after locking eyes with Ginny for what he hoped would not be the final time, Harry said "Grimmauld Place," his heart sinking when he watched the Weasleys disappear before him.
Having faced the ghostly, dust figure of Albus Dumbledore and searched the place to make sure no one else was there, except Kreacher of course, Harry, Ron and Hermione retired to the kitchen and tried to discuss what they were going to do next. But none of them said a word: they couldn't speak- fear consumed them; fear for the safety of the Weasley's and the others at the wedding.
A message from Mr. Weasley via his Patronus set Harry, Ron and Hermione anxiety at ease knowing that everyone was okay, freeing up their minds to think of a plan. They knew they couldn't stay in Grimmauld Place long, it was a spur of the moment decision on Harry's behalf to go there: knowing that Snape is on Voldemort's side, he could enter the building whenever he wished, but nevertheless Harry, Ron and Hermione hoped that they would be safe for now. The topic of discussion for the most part was the Horcruxes. Ron and Hermione kept referring to Harry, asking him where he thought the Horcruxes were, especially the locket. But Harry was not the least bit helpful, which made Hermione, especially, very frustrated. But Harry was not focusing on their discussion; he had two things on his mind. Although there was no one else in the house but them, he noticed that paper had been strewn all over Sirius' old bedroom and some things looked out of place. A half of a photo and the second half of a letter Lily wrote to Sirius were missing which puzzled Harry immensely. When he mentioned this to his friends, they both asserted that the order may have had to pack up quickly and leave the location once they discovered Snape was working for Voldemort, but Harry didn't quite believe them; it still didn't explain the missing pieces of his mother's memory.
The other thing was: now that Rufus Scrimegeour is dead and Voldemort had infiltrated the Ministry of Magic, Harry felt now more than ever that he needed to speak with Dumbledore. Harry had mentioned a few times whilst at the Burrow the possibility of returning to Hogwarts to speak to Dumbledore's portrait but both Ron and Hermione thought the idea was too dangerous for Death Eaters were bound to be surrounding Hogwarts. But Harry felt differently- surely now that Voldemort had only just gained control over the ministry, Hogwarts would be the last thing on their minds? Hogwarts didn't have a Headmaster at the moment and all the students would be at home- no one except he would be there. But despite all of his reasoning, his friends were not budging. To them, going to Hogwarts would be the first thing Voldemort would suspect, but Harry couldn't help but hope that they were wrong or perhaps they were simply more focused on Horcruxes rather than what Harry was truly trying to say to them: he needed to go to Hogwarts, the mere thought of the place brought a sense of hope and security Harry couldn't quite explain.
Yet, Ron and Hermione seemed to be forever fixed on Horcruxes and while he wouldn't ever admit it to Ron or Hermione, Harry had no idea what he was doing- no idea where to look for Horcruxes- at the present moment, Harry felt he knew no more about Horcruxes than Ron or Hermione and it pained Harry to think he had led his best friends on a search for a needle in the hay stack that is Great Britain. So Harry needed to talk to Dumbledore for ideas, for some perspective as everything was all of a sudden crashing down around him and he needed Dumbledore to tell him that everything would work out, that he, Harry knows more about Horcruxes than he believes he does. But aside from the many urgent questions Harry had to ask of Dumbledore about Voldemort and Horcruxes, deep inside Harry knew a small part of him needed to know if Dumbledore was okay; he needed closure before the nightmares he has at night drive him insane. The image of Dumbledore's death, the moment the Headmaster's soul left him and fell over the battlements, the hatred and vengeance in Snape's eyes when he killed the man he betrayed, Snape's very face made Harry's blood boil and his fists clench- he hated that man as much as he hated Voldemort. But long gone was Harry's resentment towards his Headmaster for trusting Snape- there were more important things to consider like Horcruxes and what Voldemort was planning to do next. Harry could feel it, in his heart or in his gut, he wasn't sure, but there was definitely a strong pull towards Hogwarts and Harry knew that no matter how foolish, he needed to visit the school one last time- he needed he speak to Dumbledore- the one person who had complete faith in him- the only one who could truly know just how difficult the journey was going to be.
Meanwhile, Ron and Hermione were still discussing what they should do, oblivious to the fact that Harry hadn't said a thing for 10 minutes and Harry being completely ignorant to the bickering that was now occurring between his friends.
Finally, Harry had made up his mind- he was going to Hogwarts- without Ron and Hermione. If he did manage to speak to Dumbledore he didn't want them hearing how few ideas he had- Harry didn't want to let them down after everything they had risked for his cause. Perhaps this was a poor way to repay them? Harry didn't know but what he did know is that he wanted to get to Hogwarts as soon as possible but the trick was how to leave without Ron or Hermione knowing. Harry could only hope that his plan wasn't about to backfire in his face.
It wasn't until a week later that Harry found an opportunity to leave Grimmauld place and Apparate to the outskirts of Hogwarts. By this time, they had formed a bond with Kreacher, had learnt about Regulus' heroic death, Mundungus' stealing of Black property, including the locket Horcrux and the possibility that Umbridge now possessed the Horcrux all three of them were dying to retrieve after many nights of no sleep. Having stared at plans of the ministry for 8 hours on end that day, Ron and Hermione went to bed early and Harry felt this was the perfect opportunity to sneak out. The guilt he felt was immense as he packed a bag and put on his invisibility cloak to stay hidden from the Death Eaters outside GrimmauldPplace and any that may be surrounding Hogwarts. Leaving a note incase his friends did wake; Harry hoped it would assure them at least of his location but prayed that they wouldn't search for him if they were to wake before he returned. If all goes well he'd be home before sun rise.
Taking one last look at the living room, his invisibility cloak completely covering him, Harry opened the front door and closed it quickly but quietly behind him. Putting every protection spell he knew on his property to ensure his friends were safe, Harry then Apparated to the outskirts of Hogwarts.
Never before had Harry been so cautious as he started into the darkness and slowly crept towards the castle. Every sound, the breaking of a twig or a hooting owl made Harry jump but he never once uttered a sound. Slowly he approached the door- not a Death Eater was in sight- everything was going according to plan. A sudden thought hit Harry when he arrived at the door- how would he get it? In previous years, a professor always had to open it for him but now that the school was closed for the holidays… Despite his doubts, Harry pushed the door thinking nothing would happen, but it did. The large oak door creaked open and Harry could hardly believe his luck, though it did unnerve him that the school had such poor security. However, Harry didn't let these feelings deter him from his ultimate goal- he needed to speak to Dumbledore.
"Ah, congratulations!" Dumbledore sighed with relief as he watched a man enter the Headmaster's office- the one he himself had occupied before he died.
But Severus didn't accept the wishes of his former employer, in fact, Severus stormed straight into the room and went to place his things in the quarters without glimpsing at the old man's portrait. When he returned, Severus pulled out a vial from his cloak, opened a nearby cupboard and tipped its contents into the Pensieve. After the entire vial was emptied, Severus stood in front of Albus' portrait and stared at the man as if daggers were shooting out from his eyes.
"What should I be congratulated for, Albus? What praise do I deserve?" Severus fired at him.
"You have done an excellent job getting into Voldemort's inner circle where he trusts you to run the school which, starting September, will be inhabited by many underage wizards and some of the most talented witches and wizards in the country. Also, by gaining this position you will now be able to protect the students of Hogwarts from any plan Voldemort may have to harm them," Albus asserted as if the answer to Severus' question was obvious.
"In other words I should be congratulated for making your plan work- so far everything has gone to plan- that is all that matters to you!" Severus shouted.
"I apologise for praising you then," Dumbledore attempted to rectify, but he knew that Severus was only getting started.
"Congratulate yourself for devising such a fine plan, for trusting me when few others would have and heaven forbid praise my parents for having a son who despite his own better judgment, agreed to assist you in your plans! Congratulate the students of Hogwarts who will have a Headmaster who doesn't want to turn them into thoughtless individuals – not that they would know the difference between me and any other Death Eater! And while you are at it, Albus-" Severus paused to take a breath, his heart racing, his mind spinning- he had been waiting to say these words for so long. "Congratulate the Order of the Phoenix for having me: an Alliance who continues to work for them due to my own emotional, pathetic weakness even though I know they would like nothing better than to kill me! So yes, Albus many congratulations are in order, but not to me," Severus raged, however sarcastically. But Dumbledore was deterred for only a second.
"Such people would be worthy of a congratulations but you know that they will not understand why- it is because of you that the Order, the students and myself are blessed- you know that." At this, Severus turned away from Albus and collapsed into the nearest armchair- it seemed his rage had tired him out.
Having seen this, Dumbledore asked: "How long have you wanted to say that to me?"
Severus stared into Dumbledore's eyes. "Ever since you begged me to kill you," He replied in disgust.
"At least you are still alive, you can still do some good, Severus."
Severus' face contorted momentarily and then suddenly stood up to face Dumbledore once again. Shaking and looking slightly deranged, Severus yelled: "I would give ANYTHING to swap places with you- I would give anything to be dead! I should not have fulfilled the Unbreakable Vow, I should have DIED!"
Dumbledore's eyebrows raised momentarily as he stared into Severus' black eyes which appeared on the verge of drowning in tears and asked gently:
"Are you alright, Severus?"
Snape stared at Dumbledore not really sure what his answer was; no he was not okay but knowing what was at stake he didn't want to admit this to Albus. Dragging his eyes away from the portrait, Severus sat down in the chair and rested his head on his palms.
"I do not know," he mumbled.
There was a pause and although Severus couldn't see it, Dumbledore was surveying him like an x-ray.
"You can do this Severus," the old man tried to encourage the broken wizard before him.
"I could never have even dreamed it would be this difficult," Severus confessed, looking at Albus.
"Difficult in what way/" Dumbledore enquired.
Severus stared into space as if remembering something painful.
"I went to Diagon Alley yesterday to withdraw from Gringotts and I saw Minerva-" Severus took a quick glimpse at Albus, who was sympathetic and nodded his head in understanding.
"The way she looked at me… I will never forget it. If we weren't surrounded by Dementors and various Death Eaters she probably would have dueled me. It was clear that she despised me and- why does this not bother you?" Severus asked suddenly.
"I am not sure what you mean," Dumbledore replied, a little shocked by the sudden change in tone and topic.
"Most people think you were foolish to trust me- that you were blind to my true intentions. Some even think you were stupid, an old fool who had lost his mind! Does it- how can it not incense you?" Severus asked, clearly distressed. But contrary to how Snape was feeling, Dumbledore was smiling at Severus.
"It doesn't because I know I made the right choice to trust you; the proof is standing before me," Albus replied modestly, gesturing towards Severus. "You have been a great asset to our fight against Voldemort and while many do not know this- I do," he said with confidence. "It has always been a privilege to defend my trust in you, Severus which I did right up until the day I died."
"Until I killed you-"
"On my orders Severus-"
"Tell that to Potter and the several witnesses there that night!" Severus yelled, standing up once more.
"Severus, calm down-"
But Severus pressed on; he knew he could not calm down, not yet, not while he was in so much pain.
"Minerva, Potter, everyone will be completely ignorant of what I have done because it would be foolish to tell anyone of my true loyalties in case the Dark Lord captured them. I am risking EVERYTHING for them and yet, I will not be recognized for my efforts!"
"The night I killed you, Potter chased me out of the castle. I didn't want to run, I wanted to die with you; I was felt so upset- so guilty- I wanted to grieve for you: I had just killed the only person who truly trusted me and knew me for who I was. I was upset- I wanted to scream- to curse someone but no- I had to escape and ensure Draco's safety; I had to pretend to be- to feel something I did not. When Potter caught up to us, he tried to curse me- if he were capable I am sure Avada Kedavra would not have been beyond him. I kept blocking his spells and do you know what he said to me, Albus? He called me a coward because I was not fighting back- because I killed you and because apparently I took pleasure in your death- apparently I wanted to kill you. It was absurd that I could not tell him the truth- that the reason I was deflecting his spells was to protect him from my anger, fear and sadness which were threatening to be released in my magic! I was protecting him for so many reasons: because he is Lily's son, because only his victory could end this ridiculous façade I have stupidly gotten myself into and because one day I hope he will discover the truth. Contrary to what Potter believes, I want him to survive, but he will never know this or even believe it if he was told. The biggest irony out of all of this is that if Potter dies at the end of all of this, he will remember me as a coward- after everything I have done- everything I have sacrificed- is that what I worked for? To have Lily's son despise me, hate me, see me as anything less than someone who tried to do what was right, but then became caught up in your plan-"
"The plan worked-"
"Yes it worked, but no one will know the part I had to play in it!" Snape screamed, his fears, his regrets, his pain pouring down his face in droplets of tears.
"I assure you," Dumbledore said seriously, though a little concerned by Severus' expression of emotion which the Headmaster rarely witnessed when he was alive. "That once Voldemort is dead I will tell everyone who walks into this office that Severus Snape is a talented, intelligent, brave wizard who has the right to be acknowledged for the man he truly is."
"And what if the Dark Lord is never defeated? No one will know that I tried!" Severus exclaimed whilst trying to control the emotions boiling within him.
"I will Severus and no words can describe how much respect I have for you and what you are risking. I know you can do this. I would trust this job to no one else but you, Severus. Your skills in Occlumency are superb, your quick thinking and potion making skills have made you a skilled spy and an invaluable ally. No one else is capable of such skill, such discretion, such subtly as you. Myself and the wizarding world are relying on you, Severus," Albus stated, hoping to instill some confidence in the man.
"Well forgive me for not being enthused about my survival and my skills. I truly wish you were here instead of me," Severus stated in a monotonous voice, a feeling of emptiness filling him up and consuming him- he didn't even want to live.
"Your worth in this cause is far greater than mine."
"I wish it weren't. Is it wrong of me to desire death?" Severus asked of Albus, staring into Dumbledore's eyes for an honest answer.
"I have expected many things of you, Severus, but never to be anything more or less than human. It is understandable that this is difficult- to be someone you are not."
"But how can I hold such a burden when I know that the people I am trying to protect only want me dead? That my true allies see me as nothing more than a lousy, cheating Death Eater? How can I find the motivation to risk everything for people who would throw away my life in a heart beat? It is too hard, Albus," Severus implored in exasperation.
"I would understand if you backed out, it is nothing to be ashamed of," Dumbledore asserted, apparently with great sincerity.
Severus appeared to be considering this for a moment, but then replied:
"I couldn't; I am doing this for Lily, you and I suppose Potter- not that he would know it. You are the only person who has faith in me and you aren't even alive because I killed you," Severus stated, sounding resigned.
"But I still have faith in you Severus, now more than ever before," Dumbledore implored, leaning forward in his portrait chair and peering at Severus.
"But I do not- I feel I am going insane. I cannot think properly, my thoughts are scattered and if the Dark Lord were to turn up right now, my defenses would be so weak they'd be penetratable. I cannot take that risk, but after the week I have had, I cannot concentrate. I feel tired, weak and drained and as much as I want to be strong enough for you and for Lily, I do not feel I can at the present moment," Severus sighed. Then as if realizing how weak and useless he felt, Severus shifted uncomfortably in his seat- he had never felt so hopeless.
"Perhaps you should rest?" Dumbledore suggested.
"I doubt whether I could, Albus; the only people I am doing this for are both dead! It hardly seems to matter anymore-"
"What about Harry?"
"What use would I be when I cannot be within his sight for fear of being cursed and for what? Protecting him? For killing you when it was a part of the 'greater good'? For killing his parents which I am still paying the price for?" Severus spat.
"Because you chose to, Severus," Albus pointed out delicately.
"Yes, not that I could help but love her and now I am protecting her son as best I can when all the while he believes I am inhuman, that I feel no guilt, that I cannot grieve, that I am unremorseful for her death, even though every action I have done since the day Lily died has been because I do possess those feelings!"
Severus felt tears falling down his cheeks, but he didn't bother wiping them away.
After a moment when Severus had collected himself, Severus asked:
"How can I risk so much and put all of what little energy I have left into helping protect the students and assist Potter to the final stand when I know that no one alive on this Earth gives a shit about me?" Severus whispered, breathing heavily- everything was boiling over.
"Severus, have a rest," Albus insisted, however gently.
"It will make no difference! The same agony will still face me tomorrow, Albus!" Severus replied, holding his head as if trying to stop his thoughts and feelings from consuming him. "I think I am going insane! There is so much at stake, people are at risk, so much to conceal- so much to hide, the fact that the Dark Lord could go on a rampage and kill us all, that I could make one mistake that will ruin everything, that a student will die under my watch, that everything I am risking will be for nothing because I cannot maintain my sanity!" Severus shouted hurriedly as if he were trying to chase his thoughts around his mind.
"Severus, please go up stairs and have a rest. We can talk about this tomorrow when you are not so stressed," Albus persisted, growing steadily worried that he had pushed Severus too far.
"I will always be stressed, Albus! People's lives are at risk; I do not want any one else to die because of me," Severus admitted sounding resigned.
Dumbledore paused as if devising the best way to say what was on his mind.
"You cannot save everyone, Severus," he said delicately. "Your best is good enough."
"But what if it isn't?" Severus fired back at him.
Dumbledore smiled in reply to the anxious, upset and fearful man. "It will be."
Wracking his brains trying to think of the password to get past the gargoyle that would lead him to the Headmaster's office, Harry tried all the previous passwords he could remember, then out of desperation, he yelled: "Dumbledore!"
Much to his surprise and delight, the gargoyle let him through. Racing up the spiral staircase as fast as the rotation would allow and without even knocking, Harry barged into the Headmaster's office.
Before Severus knew what was happening, his wand flew out of his hands, Albus yelled "Harry don't!" and none other than Potter was standing at his office door.
"Oh what fresh hell is this?" Severus exclaimed to the heavens. Without his wand he was completely useless and the fact that Potter even managed to disarm him was of even greater concern. Despite the surprise and confusion Severus felt in seeing his former student, he was not in the mood to do this now- to defend himself and tell the truth, not that it would do any good anyway. Considering everything Severus had experienced that week, if Potter decided to curse him or better yet, kill him, it would make his life a whole lot easier.
After pausing momentarily for the shock of seeing Snape before him, Harry quickly regained composure, took a few steps towards his professor, his wand at the ready.
"I never thought I could hate someone more than I hate Voldemort, but I do. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you!" Harry demanded and it was clear that his anger was paramount.
"You are neither focused nor skilled enough to kill me," Severus mumbled, looking Harry directly in his eyes.
"Just watch me!" Harry screamed as he raised his wand.
"Harry!" Dumbledore yelled from his portrait.
Harry didn't take his eyes of Severus but lowered his wand slightly.
"Do not hurt Professor Snape-" Dumbledore asserted seriously and with great authority.
"And why shouldn't I?" Harry implored looking up at Dumbledore's portrait. "He is responsible for the death of my parents, for coaxing Sirius into the Department of Mysteries and for murdering you! Why does he deserve to live?" Harry demanded of his now deceased Headmaster.
"That is not entirely true Harry." Albus paused to look at Severus who appeared to be begging him not to reveal the truth today- he was too tired and distressed to deal with his past now.
"What do you mean 'that is not entirely true'? He killed you on the top of the Astronomy tower; it was Snape's wand that produced the Avada Kedavra, no one else's!" Harry protested.
But Albus didn't answer; he was lost in thought. Suddenly he asked:
"Harry how did you get into the castle?"
"Oh," Harry started, surprised by the sudden change in topic. "Well the front door was unlocked so I just opened the door and came inside…" Harry drifted off when he saw Snape turn pale and suddenly stand up.
"Give me my wand Potter," Severus said calmly but with authority. To keep Harry safe at the very least, knowing the boy wouldn't be leaving the castle for a while, he needed to secure the castle.
"I am not stupid! You could easily torture me, use Occlumency against me, summon Voldemort here or even your fellow Death Eaters!" Harry asserted, his wand held at the ready, looking momentarily at his Professor's left arm where he new the dark mark lay under the man's cloak.
"I promise not to hurt you," Snape assured him. Severus felt so stupid and irresponsible for leaving the school so insecure that he was prepared to do almost anything to get his wand back- even be nice to Potter if that's what it took.
"No, you won't hurt me, just kill everyone I love!" Harry cried, brandishing his wand once more.
Severus stood there staring at Harry who had angry tears in his eyes. Then Snape looked up at Dumbledore's portrait for help- he knew only one way of convincing the boy of his true loyalties but even then, Harry may not believe him.
"Harry, it is very important that Severus get his wand back, he needs to protect the castle then he will return and we can talk about this further-" Dumbledore insisted.
"I don't believe you," Harry stated plainly as if he didn't have a doubt in his mind that Severus was as bad as he appeared.
"You must trust me. Professor Snape is on our side- your side, he will not hurt you."
"He may be confunding you!" As if any other explanation would be too absurd for him to grasp.
"You cannot confund a portrait!" Snape asserted angrily, not quite believing how absurd the current situation was and how foolish he was for leaving the school so insecure.
"I am not confunded, Harry. I am speaking the truth, now please give Severus his wand back," Dumbledore persisted, though seemed to be losing his patience.
"I still don't believe you. I am not taking any risks. I will not be the next one to die because of him!" Harry yelled, pointing dramatically at Snape
"You will need to tell him, Severus," Dumbledore said in reply to Harry's assertion; apparently Albus had given up trying to convince the boy.
"Not now, Albus," Severus whispered so Harry couldn't hear.
"It is important that Harry know the truth, you said not long ago that you wanted him to know one day-"
"When I would be strong enough to defend myself, to justify what happened- I am too tired to do this now," Severus mumbled under his breath.
"It does not need justification, Severus," Dumbledore asserted with confidence; he knew Harry would believe the truth if only Severus gave him the chance.
"What did you want to tell me?" Harry asked, slightly more curious now, but still held his wand at the ready.
"It does not matter- the point is that I need to protect this school and to do that I need my wand!" Severus said as calmly as he could but out of desperation he tried to grab it out of Harry's hands to no avail. If anything this made Harry more suspicious of Snape's true intentions.
"Harry, Professor Snape did kill me, but he did so on my orders."
"What?" Harry asked in great disbelief, looking directly at Dumbledore's portrait now.
"When I was begging him, I was not asking for my life, but for my death," Albus explained.
"But why would you do that?" Harry asked, feeling both confused and perhaps a little betrayed.
"You saw my hand at the beginning of term and continually asked me what happened. I believe I explained to you that the curse that inhabited the ring left my hand dead but I failed to mention that it would have killed me if it were not for Severus' excellent skills and extensive knowledge."
Harry looked as though he were about to interrupt, but Albus spoke even louder so he could be heard.
"Severus prevented the curse from spreading but nevertheless the magic would not hold for any longer than a year. Unfortunately, Harry," Dumbledore paused, watching Harry with great sincerity. "If Professor Snape did not kill me that night, that terrible curse would have killed me anyway. In asking Severus to kill me, this meant that Voldemort would trust him more than any of his other Death Eaters and hopefully give him important information that would be able to help yourself and the Order of the Phoenix."
"How can he help us? No one trusts him!" Harry asked exasperated wondering what in God's name Dumbledore was thinking.
"Professor Snape is now Headmaster of Hogwarts, a position Voldemort would have only trusted to his most loyal Death Eater-"
"You think Snape being Headmaster of Hogwarts is a good thing?" Harry asked in complete disbelief. "Who cares if he killed you on your orders! It still doesn't justify why he killed Sirius and my parents and didn't even give a shit about them!" Harry yelled.
At this, Severus made a movement towards Harry, but appeared to suddenly decide against it and covered up his demeanour by saying: "I need my wand Potter, we can continue this when I get back, I promise- I really must secure the castle," Severus insisted, sounding slightly desperate.
"You killed my parents and my godfather and I will not tarnish their memory by giving their killer his wand back," Harry stated in a deadly whisper.
"Let me say this," Severus whispered equally as quietly as if speaking any louder would betray the intense emotions he was feeling at the moment. "With regard to your Godfather, I told him- I insisted that he stay at Headquarters until Albus arrived to inform him where the Order had gone, but I am sorry to inform you that it was your Godfather who decided to disobey my orders and leave his home," Severus hissed.
"But the Order can communicate via Patronuses right? Couldn't someone simply send Professor Dumbledore a message to let him know what was happening?" Harry fired back.
Severus paused to look at Albus. This was in fact true- they could have simply left a note if they thought of it or otherwise sent their Patronus, but they didn't. Severus knew that Sirius was to stay at Grimmauld Place at all costs because Albus wanted him to be protected from the ministry.
"I regret to say that you are correct. However, there was a reason behind my asking Black to stay behind- Albus wanted him to remain hidden away from the Ministry and also I think common sense would tell us that a human being informing Albus of what happened is more reliable and informative than a Patronus," Severus explained through gritted teeth, slightly annoyed at being challenged by a student, especially Potter.
"But even so, you were always coaxing Sirius out of his home, making him sound like he was useless and had the easiest job in the world!"
"Compared to what I was experiencing, he DID have the easiest job in the world!" Severus exclaimed, his anger starting to boil over. "Can I please have my wand?" Snape asked in a much calmer tone, though sounded a little resigned as if he had accepted the fact that Harry would never give him his wand back.
"No, you're not even sorry he died! You don't even care!"
"Do you blame me? After the way he and your father treated me?" Severus demanded looking slightly deranged. It was the first time Snape had mentioned the memory to Harry ever since he was caught in the Pensieve which surprised Harry; he didn't think Snape would mention it again.
"What about the way you treated me and my friends? I always hated being in your class and just because I had parents you didn't give a shit about, doesn't mean I've done something wrong! You're not even sorry that they're dead! In the end, you are just as bad as Voldemort-" But Harry suddenly stopped his raging when he saw Snape take a step towards him, fury etched on his face and looked as if he were about to hit the boy. But the man managed to calm himself once more and collapsed into the chair he was sitting in when Harry arrived.
This puzzled Harry beyond expression which caused him to remain silent.
"Severus?" Dumbledore said, seriously concerned for the man and Harry was shocked to see it.
"He's right," Severus whispered so that only Albus could hear.
"You know as well as I that that is not true! You need to tell him what happened so you can retrieve your wand and secure the school. That is the most important thing at the moment," Albus advised Snape.
"To you, maybe. But what about me? I cannot do this, I cannot put everything on the line just because the stupid kid doesn't realize what danger he could be in if he doesn't return my wand to me-"
"I'm not stupid!" Harry asserted angrily, brandishing his wand and pointing it directly at Severus' chest.
"Harry if you even touch Severus, I will never forgive you," Dumbledore said, raising his voice and although he wasn't angry, Harry knew he meant it.
"Just beg him to return my wand, he will listen to you eventually," Severus suggested.
"Harry deserves more than that Severus," Albus asserted gently.
"I don't care," Severus mumbled, resting his head in his hands; he had a terrible headache and wished Harry would go away and take his wand if need be; Severus wanted to be left alone.
"You will care if Harry dies tomorrow and you didn't tell him," Dumbledore reminded him.
"It is too risky Albus, if he is captured then the plan is ruined and aside from that, as I have said before, I cannot do this today; I have a splitting headache," Severus said quietly, rubbing his forehead with his palms.
"You don't really have a choice, Severus-"
"Yes I do. Obviously he wanted to come here to talk to you so I will go into my quarters and he can keep my wand-"
"But you need to protect-"
"I know but I give up Albus!" Severus said, raising his voice louder than he intended so that Harry could hear.
"I will not allow you to give up, Severus, we must tell Harry," Albus assured the man before him.
But Severus simply shook his head; it took too much energy to speak.
Then turning to Harry, Albus stated for the final time as if he were getting tired of negotiating between the two wizards before him:
"Please give Professor Snape is wand Harry."
"But you are dead Professor Dumbledore! Even if Snape is the Headmaster of Hogwarts, he can turn against you whenever he wants! You cannot trust him and there is no way I am giving him his wand!" Harry asserted, though felt a little confused by Dumbledore's behaviour and continued siding with Snape, it went completely against everything Harry was expecting from his visit.
"Harry, this is extremely serious. I understand that you are being cautious, but if Voldemort were to come to Hogwarts we would have no warning of his coming-"
"Then tell me the incantation and I will go and secure the castle," Harry suggested.
"No, there are plenty of risks- if the Dark Lord or a Death Eater were to capture him, they could find out the truth and my cover would be blown! It could ruin everything!" Severus interrupted before the old man could say anymore.
"You know how much danger Harry could be in if-"
"Well then let the boy die as a consequence for his foolishness!" Severus hissed scathingly.
"We both know that is not what you want, Severus."
"God only knows what I know at the moment, Albus! I cannot do this! The boy's stubbornness is stronger than any motivation I have to protect him or myself. Let him do what he wants," Severus asserted, resigning to the seat he had been sitting in for half the night.
"But there may not be another opportunity to tell him, Severus."
"It does not matter! I told you I cannot do this now and if you tell him Albus, I swear I will never forgive you!" Severus asserted with both anger and fear in his eyes because he had a feeling that if Harry refused to give up Severus' wand, Dumbledore would tell the truth if it came to that.
Albus looked kindly in Severus' eyes. He knew the man was exhausted and Dumbledore honestly couldn't believe how much Severus had grown, how much he has achieved. Although Dumbledore was dead, he knew that it was still his responsibility, no matter how Severus was feeling or what the situation, to ensure that the man didn't give up on everything he had sacrificed and worked on for the last 16 years: protecting Harry. Even though Dumbledore knew Snape was still blinded by the prejudices he held towards James, Albus also knew that Harry was far more like Lily than James and would understand Severus' story if only given the opportunity to hear it.
"I'm sorry Severus," Dumbledore apologized, and truly meant it.
"Don't you dare, Albus!" Severus yelled.
Then turning to Harry who had remained silent through all of this, Dumbledore said:
"Harry, Professor Snape loved your mother." Harry's jaw dropped, then slowly turned to look at Snape who had rested his face in his hands as if trying to block out what had just happened: a violation of his most secret desires and emotions.
Severus looked up slowly from his hands and stared at Albus aggressively. Harry watched as Snape's face turned white as he whispered: "How dare you?"
Harry was stunned and didn't know what to say or do; he was not expecting this at all.
When Harry eventually found his voice, he turned to Snape and asked, feeling a little strange: "Did- did you really love my mother?"
"No Potter, Albus simply said it for your amusement," Severus spat with sarcasm.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Harry asked, astonished that such important information about Professor Snape and his mother was kept a secret from him.
"For many reasons Harry. Severus swore me to secrecy the moment he realized the prophecy could have potentially implied yourself and therefore a danger to your parents, he made me promise never to tell you or anyone else for that matter, about the relationship he had with Lily. But even if Severus did not impress this upon me, I probably would not have told you until your fifth year because you must remember that Professor Snape was also teaching the sons of Death Eaters and if they were to find out that Severus loved your mother, they would, of course, inform their fathers and Severus' role as a spy would have been revealed. Severus' love for your mother has nevertheless been the reason why I have always explicitly trusted him despite how the situation may have appeared," Dumbledore emphasised, looking down his crooked nose at Harry, who knew what that glare meant for he had on several occasions suggested to Dumbledore that Snape was not to be trusted.
Having heard this explanation, Harry now understood why Snape didn't wish to discuss it; the man was still sitting in the chair and looked extremely distressed, like a great part of his being had been revealed for everyone to judge.
Having built up the courage to speak to Severus again, not really sure what his reaction would be, Harry slowly walked up to the man. Hearing Harry's footsteps, Severus looked up into Harry's eyes, clearly afraid of what he was going to find amongst the green.
Upon seeing Severus' gaze, Harry tried his best to say what he wanted to say without feeling intimidated by his stare which he was used to being full of hatred not fear and vulnerability.
"Um, here," Harry said, handing Severus' wand over to its owner. "I'm sorry I didn't trust you."
Severus looked up at Harry in disbelief; no sly comment? No gibe at how stupid he was for believing Lily could ever love someone like him? No laughing or questioning? Nothing- there was no need to justify his love for her…
Severus took his wand from Potter and without saying a word, left his office to place the protective enchantments around the castle which were meant to be in place over an hour ago. Severus could only hope he wasn't too late…
A/N: This is the first of five chapters for 'To do what is right'. The next chapter will be put up shortly. Please remember to review!